Sunday 24 September 2017

Inquiry into abortion woman's death

Childrens Minister Frances Fitzgerald, as UK authorities are investigating the death of a woman who travelled from Dublin to London for an abortion
Childrens Minister Frances Fitzgerald, as UK authorities are investigating the death of a woman who travelled from Dublin to London for an abortion

It is important to uncover what caused a woman to die in a taxi after travelling from Ireland to the UK for an abortion, a Government minister has said.

The married 32-year-old, who was a foreign national living in Ireland, underwent the procedure at a Marie Stopes clinic in west London in January last year. She died in a taxi in Slough, Berkshire, hours after the procedure.

An inquest was opened and adjourned following the woman's death and subsequently transferred to the West London Coroner's Court. The coroner's inquiry has been suspended pending a decision on prosecution.

The Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald, who described the woman's death as a "traumatic and dreadful" tragedy, said: "It's a tragic story. When I heard it this morning I was extremely shocked - The idea that the woman had left the clinic and started bleeding in the taxi. Clearly, it's very important that we hear the outcome of that investigation and understand what were the factors that led to this dramatic and dreadful outcome and the death of this woman."

Concerns over the woman's death come as the Government oversees the final stage of legislation to allow for abortion if a woman's life is at risk, including from the threat of suicide. It is understood the dead woman's life was not in danger when she first sought a termination in an Irish hospital.

Marie Stopes International declined to comment citing client confidentiality. It is understood the woman was suddenly taken ill in the Slough area of Berkshire at about midnight on the day of the procedure while in a taxi. She was pronounced dead at Wexham Park Hospital after suffering a heart attack caused by extensive internal blood loss.

The Metropolitan Police continue to investigate the sudden death, a spokesman said. It is understood that detectives have been examining whether there is a case of professional negligence to answer in relation to the woman's death.

The woman's husband, who has not been named, told The Irish Times that he was frustrated over what he perceives as a lack of progress in the case. "I think if this was an Irish or a British woman, we would know what happened to her. But I am still waiting for answers," he said.

The woman reportedly had a child in Ireland in 2010. Her pregnancy was painful and complicated by extensive fibroids and treatment could have left her her infertile. It is understood the woman was about 20 weeks pregnant when she travelled to Britain for an abortion. Her husband said she was examining options and raising money for the procedure. The couple were in Ireland on student visas at the time of her death.

Latest figures from the UK show 3,982 women travelled from Ireland to England or Wales for an abortion last year, including 32 girls who were under the age of 16. The Republic of Ireland accounted for 68% of all non-UK resident terminations in 2012.

Press Association

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News